September 28th, 2021
Senate Prosperity Action Group
Senators Call for New Post-Pandemic Prosperity Strategy
Canada must develop a comprehensive post-pandemic economic strategy if it expects to prosper in a future marked by low carbon emissions, relentless digital transformation, intense global competition and increasing demand for highly skilled workers, according to a new report by a Senate working group.
The report recommends that such a strategy is needed to deal with worrisome economic trends and that a new national Prosperity Council be established to help steer the work.
The report, entitled Rising to the Challenge of New Global Realities: Forging a New Path for Sustainable, Inclusive and Shared Prosperity in Canada, was produced by the Prosperity Action Group of the Canadian Senate (PAG), a working group of senators who come from across the Upper Chamber.
The report details a three-part approach towards achieving prosperity; the development of a national economic growth strategy that capitalizes on Canada’s strengths; the implementation of a sustainable fiscal management plan allowing for investments and building resilience to deal with future crisis; and the creation of a new set of approaches in the form of a ‘grand alliance’ that includes more co-operative federalism and stronger partnerships with businesses, labour and various community groups.
“The post-pandemic global economy will be more competitive, increasingly disruptive and profoundly different,” says the report. “Canada will need to adopt new strategies to build strong partnerships among a broad range of key stakeholders and execute relentlessly and expeditiously to overcome long-standing challenges.”
The report argues that Canada must position itself to effectively navigate through five major global transitions: the emergence of low-carbon economies; the Fourth Industrial Revolution marked by the digital and ‘intangibles’ developments; the revolution in human capital, a changed geo-political environment and the need to develop policies that allow for shared prosperity.
Among its 19 recommendations, the report proposes:
- Reinvigorating Canada’s business environment with a comprehensive review of the tax system, creating a balanced and predictable regulatory environment, eliminating interprovincial tax barriers and aggressively expanding Canada’s export trade;
- Investing in research and development, and digital and trade infrastructure;
- Development of a sustainable fiscal plan that ensures appropriate investments are made on high-priority economic and social programs, re-builds the fiscal advantage, while providing confidence for investors and bondholders;
- A new strategy to develop Canada’s “human capital” through skills development;
- A review of provincial and territorial funding transfers to ensure all orders of government have necessary funding to deliver programs services;
- Establishment of a new Prosperity Council, which would support cooperation among federal, provincial/territorial governments, convene regular Prosperity Summits, share ideas and measure progress;
- The report also includes a series of key performance measurements to gauge progress.
The report notes that, while there is optimism about how Canada will fare this year and next, the country faces many headwinds, including anemic projected economic growth below two per cent in 2024-25 and beyond , declining productivity, low business investment and an aging population.
The collaboration between federal, provincial and territorial governments over the life of the pandemic can also serve as a template in breaking down traditional sticking points such as inter-provincial trade barriers and other points of disagreement.
The study was informed by the views of 70 individuals representing academia, the business world, Indigenous leadership and labour, among others. The hearings took place over the autumn, winter and spring. The hearings took place under Chatham House rules, which permitted us to use the content of the presentations, but does not allow us to quote the individuals directly.
The report says that Canadians from across all sectors and groups must play a large role in the development of the strategy. The report will be the focus of an interactive dialogue co-hosted by the Senate Prosperity Action Group and the Public Policy Forum on October 7, 2021. Participants include: former Prime Minister Joe Clark, former British Columbia Premier Christy Clark, former Deputy Prime Minister John Manley, Senator Peter Harder, Industry Council Strategy Chair, Monique Leroux, Public Policy Forum President Edward Greenspon as well as several other prominent experts.
Members of the Prosperity Action Group are:
Diane Bellemare (Quebec-Alma), Peter Boehm (Ontario), Brent Cotter (Saskatchewan), Colin Deacon (Nova Scotia), Tony Dean (Ontario), Percy Downe (Prince Edward Island), Peter Harder (Ontario), Marty Klyne_(Saskatchewan), Elizabeth Marshall (Newfoundland and Labrador), Sarabjit Marwah (Ontario), Paul Massicotte (Quebec (De Lanaudière), Pierrette Ringuette (New Brunswick).